January is the month when we try to make changes in our lives. New Year’s resolutions!
We’re going to work out more. We’re going to lose weight. We’re going to finally read that book. We’re going to fix that relationship.
Character qualities rise to the fore. I’m going to be a more hard-working person in 2015. And more honest. I’ll amp up the compassion. Get rid of the swear words. Stop the gossiping.
So we set up a “fine jar.” A dollar for every cuss word. Five dollars for every time I catch myself gossiping.
We write out our list of goals. We share it with our best friend, and ask him to keep us accountable.
None of those are bad things. In fact, they can be very, very good things. But they are not the place to start.
Jesus shows us that place. The starting line for life-change is not our neighbor or the list on our smartphone.
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19, NIV).
This is so important. Jesus tells us why our habits are broken. It’s because our hearts are broken.
The place to start is with healing the heart. And the place where healing the heart begins is the cross. The person who can change my habits permanently is not me. The person is Jesus.
That’s because change begins with hope, with strength, with love. Not with condemnation, with feeble attempts, with selfishness and shame.
And who is Jesus? He is hope. He is strength. He is love.
Ask him to heal your heart. And change your life.
Jesus, heal my heart through the good news of your forgiveness won for me at the cross. I want to change. Give me your hope, your strength, and your love.
Our reading for Thursday, January 22, is Genesis 43:1 -44:34, Matthew 15:10-39, and Psalm 13:1-6.
Header image based on "Granite Cross" by Lindman, CC by 2.0